HSC TCOM’s Office of Rural Medical Education receives grant from United Health Care for medical mission trips

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Office of Rural Medical Education at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine has received a grant from United Health Care that will support two one-week medical mission trips to provide health care to rural communities in Texas for 2024. The grant, which is for approximately $20,000, is to support the sustainability and expansion of the services provided by the rural medical mission trips while also increasing the exposure for interested medical students to continue their training for the practice of rural medicine.

“We are extremely grateful for their support,” said Maria Crompton DO, DipABLM, TCOM’s director of rural medical education. “This is huge for the communities we are serving and the learners who are attending. The participating medical students are fulfilling portions of their curriculum, developing numerous core competencies, and mastering core professional activities at an advanced level through this type of place-based service-learning opportunity.”

In 2023, TCOM students went on three medical mission trips. The first one saw students provide a clinic during spring break in the small border towns of Van Horn, Sanderson, Terlingua and Candelaria. In July, TCOM students returned to West Texas with stops in Van Horn, Sanderson, Marathon and Alpine, where they saw more than 120 patients at different clinics.

In Sanderson, they provided 16 of the school district’s 20 student-athletes with physicals, which saved their parents more than $100 per child and a 175-mile round trip to see a physician.

MMT Dec 2023 Morton ElementaryTo close out the year, students headed to the Texas Panhandle and provided health care in Sundown, Morton and Whiteface.

“The grant funding is to support the sustainability and expansion of the services provided on our rural medical mission trips as well as increase the exposure for interested medical students to continue their training for the eventual practice of rural medicine,” said Dr. Crompton. “Most patients served do not have a primary care provider they see regularly, due to significant barriers, and are now able to receive appropriate screenings and follow-up care through our trips.”

ROME’s research assistant director, Ann Smith, and Malinda Hansen, MS, DO, CAQSM, played vital parts in helping to secure the grant from United Health Care and have gone on previous medical mission trips.

Dr. Hansen was instrumental in seeking funding to begin offering joint injections as knees and shoulders are particularly vulnerable in rural life.

“UHC’s willingness to engage with us in our efforts to continue serving the people of far West Texas is greatly appreciated,” said Hansen. “This grant will allow us to expand our services to include joint injections and additional screenings to address the whole health of the patient.”

According to Smith, the ROME-TRHA trip in March will be the tenth medical mission trip in four years.

“The relationships we have established in these communities continue to be a highlight for our students, faculty and staff,” Smith said. “Many of the patients are repeat attendees and occasionally one of the patients will say, “I’m not really needing anything, but I know you need to practice,” to one of our student doctors. However, in the course of the clinic visit, each patient has a physical with a medical history, lifestyle survey, as well as any treatment needed. It’s at that time many become OMT fans for life!”

The trips are scheduled for March 10-14 where students will go to Sanderson, Terlingua and Marathon.

The second trip is tentatively scheduled for June 28-July 3 with stops in Sanderson, Van Horn, Presidio, Alpine, Terlingua and Marathon.

From HSC Newsroom - Community by Steven Bartolotta